BC Altair IV Triple BC
Its been a long time since the popular perception of the Vietnamese was of little men in black pyjamas riding bicycles and packing plenty of firepower. Vietnam has since attempted to join the other tiger economies of the Far East, and because it can offer very competitive labour costs, we are bound to see more and more products which are labour-intensive in manufacture coming from this part of Indo-China.
     Among equipment made for diving, nothing takes more man-hours to make than a BC. At the same time, nothing is really so low-tech. So its no surprise to hear that many BCs bearing familiar brands actually start life in Vietnam, and its no surprise to hear that as manufacturers become more confident, they start thinking about getting their products CE-marked and marketing them directly to us.
     The Altair IV Triple is a case in point.
     My first impression was that it looked just like some other BCs I had used recently. The only clue to its direct source was the fact that I asked for one in size Medium and got one to fit a medium-sized Vietnamese! They will have to think about re-sizing if they want to sell to the beefy burgermasters of the USA.
     As Ive always said, I can dive with anything. I just have to select the dive to suit the equipment. So I took the BC to the midsummer Mediterranean, with the idea that this was where I used to dive without any BC at all, so whatever small amount of maximum lift it provided would be a bonus over my old approach.
     In fact the Altair IV Triple fitted me like a glove and, although it tended to hug me in a rather over-fond embrace when fully inflated, worked remarkably well. I never felt, even with a 15 litre steel tank, that I was not properly supported at the surface, and under water it dumped air impeccably.
     So what do you get with this rather conventional BC A hard backpack with a small cushion; two tank cambands for a single tank; two side pockets secured closed by generous helpings of velcro; four stainless-steel D-rings; light-reflective patches on the epaulets; Velcro-covered cummerbund, adjustable for length and secured by a webbing strap and pinch-clip over.
     Sternum strap; corrugated hose with integrated direct-feed hose; shoulder-pull dump on the left and a right-side shoulder dump with nicely integrated toggle; rear bottom dump with toggle fed through to the front of the jacket; fittings and a finish distinctly reminiscent of some products bearing more familiar northern European brand-marks.
     So what makes this BC unique Its very cheap. I imagine that a lot of dive schools and first-time purchasers of diving equipment will be drawn to it.
     The Altair IV Triple BC comes in sizes S, M, L, XL and XXL and represents exceedingly good value at an expected selling price of around £175.
  • Dive-Time International 01423 530504

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Very good value for money

    - Very conventional
    - Smaller sizes than marked